The Final Pathfinder Operation, Kiel and Nearby Airfields, 2/3 May 1945

608 Squadron, Downham Market. Photograph: Brian Emsley (whose father, a member of ground crew, is on the far left)..

The last Bomber Command attack of the war took place on the night of 2/3 May, when Pathfinder Mosquitoes, in two forces of 16 and 126 respectively, together with 37 Mosquitoes of 100 Group. bombed Kiel and nearby airfields.

This attack was in support of Montgomery’s troops, who by now were closing in on Lubeck and Kiel. The Germans in the area were preparing to flee to Norway from either one of the two harbours.

The Pathfinder Mosquito squadrons went out in two separate raids, the Kiel attack being in two waves one hour apart. Although the Luftwaffe no longer had any aircraft in the air, the Kiel flak guns and the German warships in the harbour were still a considerable danger but no Pathfinder aircraft were shot down.

The only Mosquito crew lost was that of Flying Officer Catterall and Flight Sergeant Beadle of 169 Squadron, 100 Group, who were shot down by flak. They and 13 members of the Halifax crews of Flight Lieutenant Brooks and Flight Lieutenant Currell of 199 Squadron (who were on Bomber Support duties and whose aircraft unfortunately collided) were the last Bomber Command operational casualties of the war.

This would be the last ever Pathfinder offensive operation. After reallocation of personnel and resources, the Pathfinders would finally be disbanded on 15 December 1945, seven months later.

608 Squadron 2

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